The King Mackerel season has officially started for us on the west coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico this week, as large schools of bait and Kings have arrived just offshore. We have been catching fish in the 15 to 20 pound range consistently with some smokers mixed in. Although our focus is on Kingfish, there are plenty of Spanish Mackerel to catch on light tackle and perfect for young anglers or to keep a few for dinner. The bottom fishing continues to be good targeting Grouper and Hogfish on the deeper offshore ledges and rock piles. The Kings are also in those same areas, so having a flat line out back while targeting bottom dwellers can be a fun way to mix it up. A few Cobia have been caught on some of our deep sea fishing charters while targeting Amberjack, Mangrove Snapper and other reef dwellers. These are a great bonus fish that fight hard and taste excellent.
Fall weather is fast approaching which typically makes for improving fishing conditions, plentiful bait and a variety of species to chase, including the Kings. Our favorite technique for Kingfish is to slow troll live bait either along the beaches, in bait schools or offshore wrecks and reefs. Light tackle can be an exciting way to fish them as they are known for their drag screaming runs and hard strikes. The Clearwater and Tampa Bay area waters have always been productive when it comes to King’s, hence the amount of Spring and Fall tournaments locally ran. The biggest of which is the Old Salts King of the Beach, with over 600 boats entered each year. This is the largest monetary tournament with the first prize payout often over $100,000! It’s an exciting time to be an angler in the Clearwater area, and if you’ve ever wanted to experience Kingfishing the next couple months is a great time to try it. This is very kid friendly fishing with the chance for big fish relatively close to shore.